July 18 – International Nelson Mandela Day


International Nelson Mandela Day was established by a decision of the United Nations General Assembly in 2009. It celebrated annually on July 18, the birthday of the legendary human rights activist. This date symbolizes the global tasks of the world community to build a fair and inclusive world. At the initiative of the UN, the period from 2019 to 2028 has been declared Nelson Mandela’s Decade of Peace.

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela is an eminent human rights defender and one of the most respected statesmen in human history. He devoted his life to the cause of humanism. He fought racial discrimination in South Africa. Because of his views, in 1962 he was sentenced to life imprisonment. He was released after 27 years and was soon elected President of the Republic of South Africa, becoming the first dark-skinned leader of this state.

Nelson Mandela is a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Until 2004, despite his age and serious illness, he actively participated in negotiations to resolve conflicts in a number of countries.

It is also important to note the activities of Nelson Mandela aimed at ensuring humane conditions of imprisonment. It is reflected in the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Nelson Mandela Rules).

Thus, the document deals with the inadmissibility of torture, ill-treatment and discrimination in places of deprivation of liberty. In addition, the Rules emphasize the need for respectful treatment of prisoners; ensuring proper conditions for serving the sentence; providing prisoners with education, training and employment. “The regime of the institution should seek to minimize any differences between prison life and life at liberty,” states one of the paragraphs of the document.

Unfortunately, the problem of humane treatment of persons deprived of their freedom remains relevant in modern realities. This issue is especially acute in the context of the conflict in Donbass.

Thus, according to the Report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights “Arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment in the context of the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine, 2014-2021″ dated 2 July 2021, in connection with the conflict in Donbass in Ukraine, from 3,600 up to 4000 people. About 60% of these cases of detention are arbitrary, that is, unlawful.

At the same time, since 2014, OHCHR has documented 528 cases of torture and ill-treatment (including sexual violence) against persons detained in connection with the conflict. In total, according to UN estimates, about 1,500 people could become victims of torture and ill-treatment. 100-150 people have been killed or died while in custody.

Representatives of the Office of the High Commissioner also recorded on the territory of Ukraine more than 30 places intended for the detention of arbitrarily detained persons, including places of secret detention, including the buildings of the SSU in various cities.

At the same time, OHCHR pointed to problems related to the investigation of cases of arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment of detainees in Ukraine, including lack of political will and abuse of procedural mechanisms.

Ukraine continues to ignore the proposal to sign a Joint Declaration on the Non-Use of Torture to Persons Detained in Connection with the Conflict in Donbass. It should be reminded that the OSCE coordinator put forward this initiative within the framework of the Working Group on Humanitarian Issues of the Minsk Contact Group.

According to operational data, today Kiev is holding about 92 supporters of the Donetsk People’s Republic.